Tag Archive | sustainable

A “living profit”? Some hints from Guinness.

guinness glass filled with beer

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

A pint of the black stuff (Guinness) would be most enjoyable now, ten weeks into “lockdown”.  Of course, this is not a lament to me wanting a pint, but there is link to Guinness.

For quite a few years now, media and commentators have highlighted the large profits and low taxes of many companies. Take amazon.com Inc, whose Q1 sales in 2020 reached $75 billion (see here for more), or think of Apple, Facebook or many other companies. Before I say anything further, I am not a total socialist, nor am I a total capitalist – there is a happy medium in there somewhere.  You may know from reading previous posts that I do some historic research on the Guinness company. Dennison and MacDonagh (1998) in their book Guinness 1886-1939: from Incorporation to the Second World War provide some very useful insights into the general management of the company, and I will draw on one of these now.

Sometimes I ask myself why do some companies need to make so much profit? On the  other hand, in a democratic/capitalist society, they are free to do so. Now, with a serious pandemic gripping the entire world, some of our underlying models are at least being questioned. So my question is could companies be happy with a “living profit”. I first noticed the term in relation to Guinness dealings with Irish malt suppliers around the turn of the 20th century. The company wished to encourage the production of Irish malt, but were not willing to buy at the lowest market price. Instead the company noted a “living profit” should be attainable. What exactly this means is not specified, but the general principle if clear. Today, most (not all) companies seem to want lowest cost everything and highest profits – presumably to keep shareholders/investors at bay. Would it not be a great improvement for us all if more and more firms took the approach of the “living profit” espoused by Guinness over a century ago? I am sure economists and others could give me many reasons why not.  But, perhaps it is worth having the conversation as the business world comes back a new normal in the coming months.




Saving €13.3m annually on water….


Image from woodiesdiy.com

You may or may not know that Ireland has only recently started to charge for domestic water use. There has been some heated debate, but here are some simple numbers based my own household.

With two simple water butts – small 100l capacity costing about €60 In total (see the photo above) – I have saved at least 6,000 litres of water in the past year. At the metered rates this is not a lot saved financially, about €22. But if half of Irish households did this (about 600,000 houses) that is a total of €13.32 million per annum across the country. Not to mention how I have seen my kids get instilled with the idea of conserving water.

Of course that’s only half the story. Saving water from rainfall means less produced water, less stress on infrastructure, less energy consumed and so on. I have no idea what these effects would do to my savings figure above – certainly a multiplier.

Typical accountant you may be thinking, but that’s it, we need to think not only about costs we pay for water, but other costs too.

%d bloggers like this: